In 2018, one of the biggest video game franchises went through a make over and renewed itself. God of War in the roots of the series was a top down action game where the focus was on the combat. Hack and slash games combined with puzzle solving mechanics were highly successful in making you feel like you were gradually becoming one of the gods as you progressed the story by killing the Greek pantheon. However, this changed with the 2018 title. The main character Kratos, once imbued in pure rage, is now a calm father in the Nordic setting.
The change is introduced by the creative director Cory Barlog. In Rising Kratos, a full feature documentary about the creative process behind God of War (2018), Barlog explains that he drew inspiration from his real life worries about fatherhood before the birth of his son. This change creates the perfect setting for the main character of the series to grow and the players to experience it accordingly.
The new perspective of the game allows the players to experience the journey of Kratos and Atreus in a single shot third person view. Combined with more realistic graphics and almost flawless writing, the game sets up an experience of a lifetime. As Kratos is forced to face his demons from his past, the player stands almost like a witness to his journey.
Throughout their journey, Kratos and his son, Atreus, try to build a bond. Kratos is set back by his past mistakes. After all, killing an entire pantheon is not a small mistake, but Kratos seeks redemption with his son. Achieving this redemption is not an easy task for Kratos either but the story, solidly written and expressed brilliantly, makes Kratos earn his redemption. In the end the father and son manage to understand and healthily acknowledge each other’s own internal issues and become a team.
The story is enriched by many characters and successfully presented as each character goes through their own journey alongside the two main characters. Unfortunately, this improved focus on the story damages the action and gameplay aspect of the game. Character movement and combat mechanics feel impressively accurate and fitting for a new perspective over an old character, however, the enemy types are very limited. The repeating enemy types for different environments make the tasks of the game very repetitive and the players are constantly battling almost the same enemies throughout the game. Especially the trolls, despite their distinct appearances, end up being the most repetitive enemy type of the game. This is a huge setback for the longstanding fans of this series because from the first game of the series, many different and creative enemy types have been an important element of the series.
Overall, the quality of the story and the immersive journey of the father and his son is enough to cover the lack of enemy types and the problems it brings up. As Barlog seemed to have tried to create a game for the players to experience the perspective of a father that does not know what he is doing, the game achieves its goals. As the end credits start rolling, the players are left with a story of redemption. And when the game is taken as a love letter to a son from his father, as it is intended to be, it is impressively successful.
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Santa Monica Studios
Platforms: Playstation 4
Release Date: 20 April 2018
Genres: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing Game
Featured Image: Playstation Store Page for God of War (2018), https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP9000-CUSA07408_00-00000000GODOFWAR
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